As former street children themselves, many of Barefeet's performers are well aware of the neglect and abuse suffered by many of their beneficiaries.
"I was born in a family of five, of which I was the last born," says Barefeet facilitator Chembe Mwanza, one of the group's success stories. "My mother died when I was three months old so my dad had to marry another wife, which became my step mother."
Mwanza's step mother disowned him when he was only eight, forcing him to run away to Lusaka and fend for himself. "I got stranded, I never knew where to start from," says Mwanza, whose drumming now accompanies the group's energetic performances. "I was left alone, I never knew anyone -- I just felt so lost, I thought that's the end of my life."
It all changed when Mwanza was 14 and saw the Barefeet crew for the first time.
"They were just making different scowls, and they just have different energies and their stories," he remembers. "They were advocating for children that live on the street. It gave me confidence so I can stand."
'Life-changing effects of art'
For most children living on the streets, entertainment is a rarity. That's why the Barefeet troupe regularly pops up unannounced in low-income areas, attracting at-risk youth with their dancing, singing and drumming.
The performers say the troupe sees itself as a conduit for providing help. Any child in need can be connected with other NGOs or local professionals able to provide care. The genius is that none of the group's activities looks like serious work so children are more likely to play along without realizing they are being offered help.
Looking ahead, McGuigan says the group's dream is to turn its festival into a global hub where youth can come to perform and collaborate with Zambian artists, as well as share skills and experiences about issues affecting children in different parts of the world.
"We want our festival in the heart of Africa to be a hub for other young advocates and artists across the world who can come here and see whether they can be inspired by the life-changing effects of art in our country," says McGuigan.